You probably don’t know me. What I do for Stitch’s Media Mix, and Stitch, is largely unseen. I don’t engage in fandom the same way Stitch does— or for that matter the way most of you do— I tend to more actively interact with news and sports than I do with fiction, and I really enjoy avoiding fan spaces.
But I have known Stitch for over a decade. I know who they are as a person and who they are as an author, and who they are as a fan. I know the work Stitch puts in to every article that gets published on here, on Patreon, in Teen Vogue. And I believe in the work she’s doing. It’s VITAL that we actively think about, and actively engage in critiquing the entertainment we consume. If we cannot critique our entertainment, if we cannot place it in the large context of our society (both how it is informed by society and how society informs what we find entertaining) then we are not doing everything we can to make a better society.
And Stitch has chosen to not just apply critical analysis to fiction and to music, and to the reactions of the fans. She has chosen to take this really incredibly dense academic concept and make it accessible, both in terms of how it’s written (trust me, every single article Stitch writes could be SO MUCH more dense) but also how and where you have access to it.
This has unfortunately, frustratingly, and upsettingly made my friend a target of harassment that is then compounded by racism, and sexism. For critiquing the institutional racism of fandom, Stitch has been attacked by people who take that critique way too personally but who refuse to do the work to unpack why.
She has been publicly accused of harassment for calling out harassment campaigns, and has been called a bully for very gently defending herself. There have more than once been calls to “deplatform” them for criticizing whole fandoms and sacred fandom spaces.
Now people are calling for Stitch to be fired from Teen Vogue ostensibly for Stitch’s supposed history of harassment and bullying. When confronted on this though the only thing accusers can point to is the phrase “pickmes.” Not a slur, not a sustained harassment campaign against any specific person, just a tame if annoying name for poc who chose to say “well I don’t see it so it must not be there” instead of engaging with critique of racist structures.
And that’s all they can point to because that’s all there is. Because that’s not the real reason they want Stitch fired; not the real reason they want Stitch silenced.
The whole reason they want Stitch gone is because they do not want to do work in their off time. They don’t want to engage in the work to make their pastimes safer for other people. They don’t want to look in the mirror see their own flaws. So instead, they attack Stitch, and others, for daring to do the work of holding up the mirror for them. They try and discredit them by calling them antis, or fan police; things that are signifiers in fandom spaces to not trust a person, and to brush off and ignore what they’re saying.
If and when that doesn’t work— because there’s always other people who are willing to engage in at least the conversation if not the work— they move on to these larger, more vicious, attack campaigns.
And real people get hurt when that happens. Real people are behind the social media accounts. Real people are behind the articles. Stitch is a very real person. Stitch is very really hurt.
This campaign against her is well over a year old. It’s draining. It’s utterly exhausting. And it is causing very real emotional pain to one of my dearest friends. The worst part is to really make it stop, the people causing the pain need to decide to stop. I can’t do anything about it. Stitch can’t do anything about it.
The people harassing Stitch need to make the decision that it’s just not worth it anymore. They’re only going to decide that if they no longer have an active audience, which will only happen if people chose to shut them out or if Stitch stops writing.
To that end there’s only one acceptable way to make that happen. Naming it is very likely to draw more accusations of harassment. (Stitch pointed out that a flaw in the archive’s report system leads to harassment, and for pointing that FACT out was accused of calling for harassment,)
But really the only way to truly get these attacks to stop is to make sure those people do not have an active audience. Intolerance cannot be tolerated. Block and do not engage. Lift up the voices of people who are actively working to make the world a better place.
Protect your friends. Protect my friend. Protect complete strangers.
Stitch doesn’t know I’m writing this. They’ll find out before anybody else does. I’m going to need it proofread before it goes anywhere. And I am afraid that other people drawing attention to the harassment she gets will draw even more harassment to her.
But everyone needs to know that they are not alone in carrying their burdens.
Abusers need to know their victims aren’t alone and isolated. And I wanted to let everyone else who’s been standing up for my friend thank you. And I wanted to make sure everyone knows she’s not undefended. And I really want Stitch to know she’s loved, and I love her work and I am proud to help keep it going.
And to everyone who’s trying to make it stop (not that you made it this far anyway): the world is going to keep growing, you can either grow with it or get left behind. If you choose to grow too, it’s going to be a lot of hard personal work and you’re not going to get cookies.
If you chose not to do that work… Well, good riddance.